Most parts of a deer are tasty, but only a few are tender enough for quick grilling. Most cuts require long, slow cooking to tenderize them and unlock their deep flavor. Brisket is a leading example. Coming from the animal's well-used chest muscles, it's a cut that's tough even on the tenderest commercially raised steer. On a nimble deer -- especially a wild-caught deer -- it's even more so. The meat is stringy and exceptionally lean, so braising it gently in your oven or slow-cooker is the best way to make it tender without drying it out.
Place the brisket on a cutting board and carefully trim away any surface fat or connective tissue with a sharp knife. Leave the thin layer holding the brisket's smaller two muscles together.
Place the brisket and a small amount of oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven. Brown it in the skillet at medium-high heat until it's well-seared on all sides. This step is optional, but gives the venison richer, more savory flavors.
Season the seared venison with salt and pepper, then place it in a deep heatproof baking dish or slow-cooker. If you've used a Dutch oven to brown the venison, that's also an appropriate braising dish.
Add onions, garlic, celery, juniper berries, bay leaves or other flavoring ingredients to the dish or slow-cooker. Pour in enough beef or venison broth to immerse the brisket halfway. Cover the baking dish and place it in a preheated oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, or cover your slow-cooker and turn it on.
Slow-cook the brisket in your oven for three to four hours, until it's tender enough that you can easily twist off a morsel with a fork. In a slow-cooker, braise the brisket for three to four hours on the high setting or six to eight hours on low.
Remove the brisket from the baking dish or slow-cooker, and transfer it to a serving platter. Strain and thicken the cooking liquids to make a sauce, then serve the meat and gravy with your choice of side dishes.
- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- Some cooks like to marinate the venison overnight or coat it with a dry spice rub, to enhance its flavors. A marinade can be especially useful in taming the stronger flavor of wild-caught venison.
- In a slow-cooker, don't check the brisket until you're confident it's done or nearly done. Lifting the lid lets out much of your heat and can extend your cooking time.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.